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Second Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Meeting of Experts for Maritime Safety and Security

7-8 Nov 2017
New Delhi, India

The Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and IORA organied the Second Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Meeting of Experts for Maritime Safety and Security (MS&S). The meeting brought together 18 IORA member states, 150 participants and 50 experts for a two day meeting at the IDSA auditorium. The meeting was conducted along the following Sessions:


a. Session I. Maritime Safety and Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region
b. Session II. Geostrategic Cooperation: An Indian Ocean Architecture
c. Session III. Inclusive Approach to Maritime Domain Awareness
d. Session IV. Regional Regal Framework for Maritime Governance
e. Session V. Creating Synergy in Capacity and Capability Building, and
f. Session VI. Concluding Session: Outcomes and Deliverables.

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Capt. Martin A. Sebastian RMN (R), Senior Fellow and Centre Head, Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy (MSD) was invited to Chair a Session as well speak in the meeting.

The meeting identified that by and large, maritime security threats that affect the IO region are generally from non state actors namely criminal elements engaged in piracy, illegal unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing; and smuggling/trafficking especially drugs and people. Maritime safety issues focused on Search and Rescue (SAR). These issues, among others, were illustrated in the Jakarta Concord which was adopted on 7 March 2017 during the First IORA Summit held in Jakarta, Indonesia. It has been reported that the cost of maritime crimes run into billions of dollars. IUU fishing has already become a food and resource security issue. One key deliverable is to address these issues in a more comprehensive manner.

Capt. Martin informed the meeting that maritime crimes are simply not a maritime matter as transnational organised crime syndicates operate from land and enjoy the bounty on land. There is a need for security to evolve as threats have evolved into a transnational “business”. Land and sea security agencies must work together at national, sub-regional and regional levelsto bust these syndicates through successful conviction and put them out of business. In order to achieve that, a concerted effort is required to better understand the landscape and seascape of these threats. Their demand-supply logistics are to be determined and assessed. Comprehensive action is required to detect, disrupt, destroy and deter these threats through a synergized approach. These crimes cannot be dealt with by any single agency nor by any individual nation. Stakeholders beyond IORA need to be engaged as partners in the plan of action. In doing so, there is no need to further duplicate the efforts by agencies but to form a framework for better security governance including the closure of loopholes in law which allows these crimes to operate. Combatting corruption should be made a priority to remove the 'weeds from the lawn'.

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SAR requires the strengthening of cooperation and coordination between aeronautical and maritime rescue coordination centres (ARCC & MRCC) where there is a need to revisit the concept of Joint RCC(JRCC) instead of being separate. These will reduce the management of scarce resources, duplication of efforts and better capacity/capability building with enhanced information flow to save lives.

Within the IORA Priority Area 6, where MS&S falls, the Action Plan 2017-2021 has called for Flagship Initiatives in the short, medium and long term. The short term initiative, among others, explores the establishment of MIMA as an IORA Centre of Excellence (COE) for MS&S. In this context, Capt. Martin proposed that MIMA will undertake the initiative to address MS&S issues through a concerted effort.MIMA has identified a comprehensive plan of action within the short term to develop a framework on MS&S for the IO region which will be submitted to the IORA Secretariat through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the national focal point for IORA.

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